Number of furloughed workers continues to fall, down over 2,000

TAIPEI (CNA) — The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan continued to fall, down more than 2,000 in one week, at a time when reduced COVID-19 concerns in the country have led to renewed business activity, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Thursday.

Data compiled by the MOL showed the number of workers who reached an agreement with their employers to be placed on unpaid leave programs totaled 23,607 as of July 15, down 2,219 from 25,826 recorded on July 7.

The latest fall was reported after a decline of 5,990 during July 1-7.

However, the number of employers with unpaid leave programs increased by 22 to 974 during the July 8-15 period, the data indicated.

The MOL said the continued fall in furloughed worker numbers is largely a result of improvements in the transportation and warehousing industries, which saw the number of workers taking unpaid leave fall to 635 as of July 15 from 2,840 on July 7.

Wang Chin-jung (王金蓉), a specialist in the MOL’s Labor Conditions and Equal Employment Division, said a large international carrier stopped its unpaid leave program, cutting the number of furloughed workers by about 2,000, referring to China Airlines.

The MOL said the local manufacturing sector recorded the largest number of furloughed workers with 15,927 as of July 15, ahead of the retail and wholesale industry with 4,344.

The manufacturing sector also topped other industries to record the highest number of employers with unpaid leave programs at 315, followed by the retail and wholesale industry with 360, the ministry added.

Wang said the export-oriented manufacturing sector remains heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has weakened global demand.

Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms with workforces of fewer than 50 people, according to the ministry. These unpaid leave programs typically last for fewer than three months and involve employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, according to the ministry.

The MOL updates the furloughed worker data on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 24th of every month. The numbers only cover unpaid leave plans put in place by companies that are reported to the ministry.